I stumbled upon the new release, "Dope" the other day and was very, very pleased I did. Maybe the theme has been played out on the big screen before, but the uniqueness of the cast, specifically the three 18-year-old best friends really works.
Malcom, played by Sameik Moore, is the lead geek. Growing up in a gang/drug/violence infested neighborhood and school, he has the ability to navigate (we barely meet his Mom). Clearly he is on the straight and narrow with college/career in the forefront of his mind. This African American student with these kinds of plans/vision makes him quite the target for bullies/bullying etc. (no doubt his dress style, lack of tats, well groomed hair and lack of bling adds too).
His best friends Jib (male, mixed race) and Diggy (female, lesbian, African American) both share Malcolm's positive spirit and good values. They do everything together - even having their own Punk band. The three of them together are fun to watch and very loyal to each other.
They make one misstep going to a club/party where hormones and an invitation to be part of a cool group trumped their common sense. In short, bullets are flying, police appear and Malcolm has a ton of drugs in his backpack.
A couple of different groups are after him and these drugs which makes him cleanly getting out of this situation nearly impossible.
Somehow, this movie stays engaging and enjoyable with the amount of violence, drugs, alcohol and sex kept to a minimum. Rather watching their journey, led by Malcolm, to extricate themselves from this situation using ingenuity, business savvy, computer/technology wizardry is quite entertaining.
This is no big blockbuster, yet very likable and enjoyable.